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من أغاني النسوة عام النكبة
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شو بدي أحكي وأقول والله راسي مصطول
واللي جرا مش معقول صفوا يا الله على الأدوار

في الصيف اجتنا امصيبة نكبة والله عجيبة
هالأحوال العصيبة ونمنا تحت هالأشجار

واجا الصليب الأحمر في السيارة يتقنبر
وصار فينا يتنفتر صفوا يالله على الأدوار

واجت بعده الوكالة تتغير هذي الحالة
أحوال كلها سفالة فيها التعب فيها العار

أعطونا بعض الخيام ودقدقناها بالتمام
فيها المطبخ والحمام فيها العقدة ليل نهار

قامت اجت هالثلجة بجت الخيمة بجة
وصابتنا والله رجة من الصقعة ومن قلة النار

ما بدنا خيام وبطاطين ولا كيكوز وسردين
ولا سمنة ولا طحين بدنا نرجع هالدار

صورة

عصرية جميل العلي

س : حجة بدي تقوليلي اسمك و عمرك. و أي سنة و مواليد أي سنة؟

ع : إسمي عصرية جميل العلي, خلقت في فلسطين في كويكات, عمري 65 سنة, هوي مفروض أكون ولدت في 1945 و لكن هم مسجلين إنو ولدت 1944.

س : إنتي تجوزتي في لبنان أو في فلسطين؟

ع : لا أنا تجوزت هون في لبنان في مخيم الرشيدية.

س : لما كنتوا بفلسطين شو كنتوا تشتغلوا؟

ع: بفلسطين كان الشغل في الأرض يعني الزراعة.

س : أديش كان عمرك لما تجوزت؟

ع : كان عمري شي 19 سنة.

س : عملتوا حفلة خطبة؟

ع : آه, إلاّ لكان عملنا خطبة.

س : كنت موافقة إنت على الزواج أو اجبروكي أهلك؟

ع : لأ, أنا كنت موافقة على الزواج.

س : هل كان في بيناتكم قص حب؟ يعني كيف تعرفتو على بعض؟

ع : كنّا جيران, كنّا نعرف بعض

س : يعني كان في قصة حب؟

ع : آه كان في حب

س : طب يلاّ حجة خبرينا

ع : ليه بدي أخبي

س : لا بالعكس يا حجة احنا عم ندوّر على هيك قصص

ع : أنا ما بنكر إنو كان في حب بينّا. إنو واحد بياخد واحد بيكرهو؟

س : إحكيلي شو عملتو بالخطبة؟ كيف إجا طلبك؟

ع : أول شي إجا هوي و إمو و أخو بدون أبوه لأن كان ميت. آه و وافقنا و عملنا خطبة, بس يوم الخطبة ما كان في أغاني زي إسا, خطبة عادي أهلي و اهلو و لبسني بالخطبة يعني جاب محبس و خاتم و حلق  إسوارة زي الجنزير

س : شو كنتي مجهزة للخطببة؟

ع : بالخطبة ما كانو يجهزوا إشي بالخطبة مثلا بدلات أو شي متل إسا , لا ما في. يعني تلبس العروس فستان جديد و إذا ما في عندا تشتري جديد. كنّا إحنا نشتري و نخيطه ما كان في متل إسّا نشتريه خالص.

س : كان في مثلا نوع قماش محدد تخيطوا منّوا الفستان؟

ع : آه, كانت القماشة للخطبة لون ازرق و تكون زي هادا الستان محجّر إنو ما في زي إسا تشتري جاهز أو إستئجار. بدك تخيطي

س : ليش كان اللون أزرق تحديدا؟

ع : يقولو على الخطبة لازم تكون البدلة زرقا بس إنوا كل واحد على وضعوا و رزقوا ما فيش مانع إذا كان اللون غير بس القماشة تكون ستان, ممكن تكون موف أو زهر كل واحد على هوا زوقو هاي معروفي. أمّا البدلة البيضا فهاي للعرس بالسهرة بتلبس بدلة زهر و بالنهار ( يوم العرس) بتلبس فستان أبيض.

س : هل كان في تقاليد معينة عشان تلبسوا هالألوان؟

ع : آه, بفلسطين كانو يلبسوا هيك, يعني هيك يعملوا بس هلّأ بطلت العالم تعمل هيك صارت تشتري أو تجيب فستان أجار خالص.

س : شو هيّ العادات و الخطوات إالي كنتوا تتبعوها لما كان يجي العريس يطلب العروس؟

ع : بالأول كانت تيجي إمو تشوف العروس, بتقعد بتلاقيها ( تحكي معها) و بتيجي بتقلن و بعدين بتبعن الرجال الكبار بحددو يوم 5 الشهر . 10 الشهر مثلا … إنو ما في شغلة محددة تيجي الناس تسمع هادا السبت هادا الأحد و بلبسوا خطبة إنوا الموعد مثلا محدد

س : الخطبة بتكون طويلة؟

ع : مش كلهن

س : يعني كانت الخطبة تبقى أكثر من سنة

ع : لا مش أكتر من سنة. يعني مثلا إذا بيكون عمها أخو أبوها, بتكون الخطبة سنة  أو سنة و شوي. بس الغريب لأ, ممنوع

س : ليش للغريب ممنوع الخطبة تكون طويلة؟

ع : كانت التقاليد قبل تمنع العريس يمشي مع خطيبتو و يحكي معا إلاّ ليتجوزو حتى لو كتب الكتاب ممنوع هيك العادات قبل مش زي إسّا, بطلعوا زي إسّا تقعد معو و تروح هيّ و يّاه ليتعرفوا على بعضن.

س : أدي كانت فترة خطبتك؟

ع : كانت تقريبا 3 أو 4 أشهر

س : كنتو تشوفوا بعض؟

ع : إحنا جيران

س : يعني كان ييجي يسهر عنكو بالليل؟

ع: آه, بقى كان يجي يسهر عنا, هويّ و إمو, هويّ و إختو ما كان يجي لحالو

س : ما كنتوا تقعدوا لحالكو تحكوا؟

ع : لا و لا ساعة, كنا نقعد لحالنا ممنوع. كان مثلا ممنوع كيف قاعدي أنا و ياكي هيكي, ممنوع نقعد لحالنا مثلا و الناس هيك قاعدين, ما في منّا هيا نقعد جميعا كلنا مع بعض و نشارك بالحديث ( إمها, أبوها, إخوتها)

س : كم مرة كان يجي عندكو بالاسبوع؟

ع : كل ما يجي من الشغل كان يجي يسهر ومرات نكون قاعدين بالنهار يمرء , مرات كان يجي كل أسبوع, كل يومين, كل ثلاثة ما في وقت محدد.

س : طب إنت كيف جهزتي حالك للعرس. 3 أشهر مش هالفترة الطويلة لحتى تخلصي جهازك ( كانوا يجهزوها عا مهلن)

ع : أنا كنت مجهزي من قبل, كنت أجيب شقف فساتين ما أجيب خالص, كنت جايبي 20 شقفة, جبتن عشان نخيطهن فساتين و شرطات, هادول إلي بنلبسو, كنا نخيط بجامات و شلحات.

س : يعني جهازك كلو خياطة؟

ع : آه, كلّو خياطة, حتى البدلة البيضا خياطة و الزهر و الزرقا كمان خياطة.

س : كنتو تحتفظو فيهن ولا لأ؟

ع : آه, ضلن عندي بس صار الاجتياح و انضرب بيتنا بالرشيدية و راحوا.

س : إحكيلنا عن يوم العرس. كيف كان ؟ شو صار؟ كان في مشاكل؟

ع : لا, لا مشاكل لا, أيام قبل ما كان فيها مشاكل و لا في شي العرس يضل أسبوع مثلا, جاي العرس يبلشوا قبل بأسبوع, كل يوم سهرة مثلا جاي العرس السبت, يبلشوا من يوم الاثنين تحضير و كل يوم سهرة يعللو و حسب ما هني  يغنو يعني 10 او 12 يستنوا ليصير القمر إبن 14 عشان يصير في ضو قمر لأن ما كان في كهربا و يضوا فنوس, هاي إلي بيضوها على كاز, بيضلن أسبوع يعللو و يوم العرس, العروس من الصبح  يجوا البنات على البيت يلبسوها و يغطوها و يلبسوها زهر أو أزرق لحد ما يجي الليل الأرايب(الاقارب) يجو ياخدوها يزبطوها و يلبسوها البدلة البيضا.

س : يعني بتلبس بدلتين بنهار العرس؟

ع : آه, و بس تلبس البدلة البيضا بيكونوا أهلها مثلا عاملين حفلة, و أهلو كمان عاملين حفلة, كل واحد لحال, ما كان في حفلة وحدة للعروس و العريس, يعني أرايبها(اقاربها) و أصحابها يعملولا حفلة و أرايبو(اقاربه) و أصحابو يعملولو حفلة, مثلا إذا كان البيت بعيد بيجو أهلو و بتيجي هالسيارة و بياخدوها على بيتها و ما كان يجي العريس ( أهلو بياخدوها) أنا مثلا لأنو كنا جيران, يومها لمّا إجو ياخدوني, هوّي ضل تحت عند دار عمّو و أنا فتت على البيت و لزقت الوردة.

س : يعني إنتو كمان كنتو تعجنو عجينة و تلزقوها على الباب؟

ع : آه, نلزق العجينة و نفوت, يكونو راحو الشباب جابو العريس , يفوت يكشفلا وجها, نوقف شوي بعدين يطلع يسلم على رفقاتو عشان يباركولو و يرجع 10 دقايق, ربع ساعة الكل يفوت على بيتو.

س : كيف كانت علاقتك مع بيت عمك؟

ع : منيحا

س : يعني ما كان في مشاكل بينك و بينن؟

ع : مرت عمي كانت أخت أبوي

س : مثلا في كتير حموات بيكونوا قوايا و بيعملوا مشاكل كتير

ع : لأ مرت عمي كانت مريضة, كنت مرتاحة أصلا أول ما تجوزت, شهر شهرين كل واحد قعد لحالو, كل واحد ببيتو

س : كم ولد جبتو؟

ع : جبت 10, 4 بنات و 6 صبيان

س: اول ولد جبتيه شو كان صبي أو بنت؟

ع :  كان حسين و وراه سليم, بعدين مروى بعدين صفا بعدين بنتي إلي ماتت و غادة آخر وحدة كان عمرا 10 أشهر لمّا مات أبوها.

س : شو كانت ردة فعل بيت عمك لما جبتي أول ولد صبي؟

ع : كانو مبسوطين كتير, عنا هون كان أول حفيد و إبن البنت بدل إبن البنت بس مش إلنا و إبن الولد مش إلنا.

س : بتتوقعي لو جبتي أول حفيد بنت كانو بينبسطو دار عمك هيك؟

ع : الله اعلم, ممكن. كل الناس و الكبار بيضلوا يحبوا يجيهن ولاد مش بنات, البنت ما بحسبو حسابها إذا جابت ولادها لأن ولاد البنت ما بيتسجلوا على إسما بس ولاد الصبي بتسجلوا على إسمو. يمكن في ناس بتحسبها هيك. إجو قالولي لما جبت أول بنت ” بدي أقولك شي بس ما تزعلي, إجاكي بنت” و أنا قلت ” ما في فرق بين البنت و الصبي, إلي بيجيبو الله ما أحلاه. الرزقة بتروح للولد ما بتروح للبنت, هيك بيقولو.

س : شو هيّ الأسباب إلي كنتو تختلفوا إنت و جوزك عليها؟ كنتو متفاهمين على بعض؟

ع : كان مريض, أغلب أيامو يضل بالمشفى.

س : شو كان مرضو؟

ع : كان طحالو معبي مي, ما خلينا مستشفى و الله. من مستشفى الروم للجامعة لأوتيل ديو لمستشفى البربير ما خلينا لمستشفى عكا, كل شهر شهرين بالمستشفى. و كان يضلو يقولولي إعملي واسطة عشان ولادك ما يكبروا هوي و مريض, أقولن لأ إحنا عيلة صغيرة , عيلة صالح, ما في غير هويّ و أخوه و صالح الدخ هنّي ولاد عم, عشان نكبّر العيلة, عشان كنا مفكرين بكرا رح نرجع عفلسطين, ف منرجع كتار هناك.

س : يعني كنتو متأملين ترجعو على فلسطين؟

ع : كل الناس كانت متأملة ترجع على فلسطين و رزقنا نضبو.

س : ولادك تعلموا بالمدارس؟

ع : آه, تعلموا

س : لأي صف وصّلوا بالمدرسة؟

ع : مروان و منزر و يوسف للثالث تكميلي, بس حسين للصف الرابع, سليم يمكن رابع لأنو مات أبوهن و هنّي صغار و صارو يشتغلوا

س : و البنات؟

ع : مروى رابع و غادة رابع بس صفا سنتين بس, صفا بطلت لأن كان في إجتياح يعني يصير في حرب بالرشيدية نيجي لهون, يصير حرب هون نرجع عالرشيدية. رحنا نأيّدا(نسجلا) كانت صف ثالث, ما قبل الدير ( علي حليحل) نسجلا” قال لا صارت كبيرة ” فا قلنالو خليها بصفا لو إنو هيّ كبيرة على صفّا” قال لأ, ما قبلش

س : يعني إنتي كنتي تشجعي على الدرس و كان بدك تتعلم و ترجع على المدرسة؟

ع : آه, بس علي حليحل ما قبل, هوّي كان المدير أو المسؤول إحنا كنا جاين هون جديد و ما منعرف حدا

س : يعني إنت كنتي بدك ولادك يتعلموا؟

ع : آه و الله كان بدي ياهن يتعلموا و منذر لما طلع من المدرسة زعل عليه المدير, كان شاطر شاطر

س : طب ليش ما كفا بالمدرسة؟

ع : رافق صحبة السوء. مدير إالي بالرشيدية بعت لمكتبة الأصدقاء ألي هون, شو بدو منذر صالح كتب أعطوه و أنا بتكفلوا بس خلص زهق. كلن بطّلوا من المدرسة بس ولا واحد فيهن رسب

س : أحوالكم المادية كانت منيحة بهداك الوقت؟

ع : لا والله, على قدنا, كل يوم بيومو.

س : شو كان يشتغل جوزك؟

ع : كان مريض, و كان يبيع خضرة, آخر شي ما عاد يقدر حتى يجيب خضرة  صرنا على باب الله, إلي الله يبعتوا إلي يدرى بحالتنا يجبلنا, من لبس لأكل لكل شي

س : إحكيلي شوي عن حياتك مع جوزك؟ قبل ما تتجوزو كنتو تقعدو مع بعض؟

ع : ما قعدنا ولا ساعة مع بعض بس كيف إنو إحنا جيران و قرايب, نروح نسهر عند بعضنا. كان عنا أرض و بساتين نزرع بالأرض, كمان الأراضي كانت حد بعضها, يعني هيك كانت حياتنا مش متل إسّا.

س : كان عندك الجرأة تقولي لأمك أنا بعجبني هادا الشخص أو ما ما بعجبني أو بدي هادا أو ما بدي؟

ع : لا أنا ما كنت أسترجي.

س : مثلا إذا كان بدو ياكي عريس و إنت ما بدك إياه. بتقدري تقولي لأ؟

ع: لا, بجبروني, مرة جبروني على واحد و ما إتفقنا.

س : يعني الكلمة مش كلمتك, الكلمة بترجع لأهلك؟

ع : آه, مش كلمتي هنّي إلي بختاروا. هداك الأول أنا ما بعرفوا, ما كنت شايفيتوا, فوتوني على الغرفة ما كنتش عارفي مين العريس, هادا ولاّ هادا, لبسوني العلامة و قعدنا. إحنا ما كان عنا كراسي, كان عنا قعدة عربية و كنت أنا قاعدي أحكي مع أهلي و رفقاتي و هويّ قاعد يحكي مع إلي حدّو ولا كأنو مخطوبين, و رحنا مرّة على صيدا لنكسي ( هويّ من عين الحلوة) مثلا يفوتو على المحل أفوت معاهن, ما أقول هاي بدي إيّها و هاي لأ. آخر شي إختلفنا, خالتو مرت أبوه كانت بدها تشتري كنبايات و إحنا كان بدنا نشتري كراسي خيزران, ما كانتش دارجة  الكنبايات, يعني تفرق كتير شي ألف ألفين ليرة زيادة, مش أنا إلي حكيت, أرايبنا هنّي إلي حكو, قالوا إذا جبنا كنبايات رح ما رح نجيب ذهب و العالم بدها تيجي تتفرج, معقول يعني يتفرجوا على الكنبايات و تكون خزانتها فاضية, شو بدهن يقولوا وين راحوا المصاري, عشان هيك إختلفنا.

س : يعني ما صار خلاف بينك و بينو؟

ع : بقول لك ولا كلمة حكيتو ولا حكاني بالمرّة, يا دوب لبسني المحبس و لبّستوا هالمحبس.

س : طب إنتي حاولتي تقولي لأهلك ما بدك ياه؟

ع : ليش أنا بسترجي, أنا ضليت هديك الفترة بلا أكل و بلا شرب غير أبكي, ما كان حدا يرد عليّ, من نهار السبت للثلاثاء ما حطيت بتمي ولا لقمة أكل, آخر شي لمّا إختلفوا على الجهاز وإجو قالولي يلاّ ضبّي الملابس ما عاد بدنا ياه. شو أنا ما صدقت, كان كل الناس تيجي تقول لأمي يا ويلك من الله ما لقيتي تحطي بنتك الاّ مع هاي ( إم العريس) هاي قوية, ما بقدر أحكي معها, إسّا أنا بقدر أحكي بس زمان ممنوع و أنا ما كنت أسترجي أقول رأيي.

س : كم كانت فترة الخطبة؟

ع : يعني كانت شي شهرين, يعني تركنا قبل ما نكتب الكتاب, منيح إنو ما كتبنا الكتاب لإنو إذا كتبنا الكتاب و قررنا نترك بصير أنا إلي بدي حط كل شي ( مصاري) لحد إسّا بعدا هالعادة, إلي بدو هوي يطلق هوي إلي بيدفع كل شي.

س : لما عملت عرسك, كان نفس العرس بفلسطين أو كان غير؟

ع : هيك كانو يقولوا العرس بفلسطين هيك. نفس العادات و لحد إسّا الحنة و الحصان و العريس مثلا بيجوا قدّام بيتك, بتطلعي الحلو و بتطلعي الشراب مثلا بترشي حلو. بفلسطين كيف بيعزموا, بيبعتوا مكتوب لمختار البلد و هو بنادي يا أهالي البلد الكريم, مثلا أبو فلان بدو يجوّز إبنو للبلد الفلاني لبنت فلان في هادا اليوم. و كلّو بيجي ( كل الناس) و كمان ولا حدا بيجي و إيدو فاضية, إلّي بيجيب سكر إلّي بيجيب قهوة, إلّي بيجيب سمنة. بيجيب زيت, كل شي, كل شي و هون كمان على عرسي عملوا هيك بس إحنا ما نادينا عند المختار, أهلي عزموا الناس و إلي بدّو يجي مثلا إذا أنا رايحة على عرس لازم أخد معي شي, شعيرية, رز, قهوة… يعني بجيب على حسب قدرتي.

س : يعني إنتي طبقتي العرس نفس إلي كان ينعمل في فلسطين؟

ع : نفس إلي كان في فلسطين. بس ما طلعت على حصان لإنو كان البيت قريب لو البيت بعيد آه, كنت طلعت على الحصان, ما في مسافة بعيدة بس لمّا طلعت من البيت كان في شمعتين كبار حامليتن بإيدي و بكونوا مولعين. أنا بحملهن و هو بيطفيهن, إذا طفيتن أنا بصيروا صحابوا يضحكوا عليه, بصير أنا إلي حاكميتو مش هوي. هيك كانوا أهلنا قبل عقلهن هالقد صغير.

س : شو كمان في هيك تقاليد غير الشمع؟

ع : مثلا كمان كانو يجيبوا إبريق ماء,ممنوع ولا وحدة من رفقاتي تشرب منو ليجي العريس يشرب منو و بعدين يصيروا يسقوا الناس.

س : ليه يعني؟

ع : خلص هاد للقيمة يعني مثلا إذا أنا شربت ماي و خليت رفقاتي أو أيا حدا تاني يشربوا يعني إنوا أنا ما عاملة قيمة إلو. كمان بس يجي العريس, العروس بتكون مغطية وجها ما بشوفها بيوقف على الباب بأذنو أذان عادي زي إلّي بالجامع و بعدين بفوت بكشف عن وجها, بيوقف شوي, بتيجي الناس بتبارك و بعدين بفلّوا, في منهن كانوا يعملولوا رقصة, و في منهن بس بيباركولوا و العروس و أهلو بضلن ناطرين العلامة, و يا علقتوا إذا بتأخر حتى أنا إمي ضلت ناطرة و كمان إجوا فاتوا معنا تعشوا كمان. تعشينا كلنا سوا.

س : كنتو تحتفظوا بالعلامة؟

ع : إيه, آه, أنا حتفظت فيها طول عمري. كنا نحتفظ فيها, مثلا إلّي يكون محكي عليها ( طالع عليها حكي) تحط العلامة على الباب. عندك مثلا وحدة إسمها حياة, هي طوّلت بالخطبة كتير يعني حوالي سنتين, و كانت تضل تروح تساعد بيت عمها, أبوها كان يعايرها, تيجي لعندي تبكي, أقول لها مش إنت عارفة حالك, تقولي آه, أقول لها ما تهتمي بكلام أبوكي. لمّا تجوزت إمها جابت العلامة و فرجتني العلامة. جيت أنا قلتلها روحي حطيها بوجه جوزك, ما تحطيها للعالم لإنوا جوزك هو الي حكا على بنتك.

س : مين كان يشوفها؟

ع : أهل العريس و أهل العروس و حتى كمان الناس لمّا تيجي تبارك , في منهن كتير غلبة يطلبوا يشوفوها فكمان يشوفوها.

س : يعني لازم تفرجيها للكل؟ ليش؟

ع : آه, لازم تفرجي العلامة لإنوا عشان يفرجوا العالم إنوا هاي طلعت من بيت أهلها و هي بنت, ما فرّطت بشرفها لحدا, و إلّي تخبيها تبلش العالم تحكي عليها, ليش خبتها, وين راحت فيها.

س : نرجع شوي لورا, كانوا يتفاوضوا على المهر؟

ع : آه, كانو كتير يتفاوضوا عالمهر مثلا ييجوا يقولوا أهل العروس, المهر هالقد, يصيروا أهل العريس يقولوا طب من شان فلان نزلوا من المهر و عشان فلان لحتى يصير المهر يناسبهن. بس هادا الحكي يضل بين أهل العريس و أهل العروس بس قدّام الناس يبقى المهر متل ما هوي يعني بقولوا قدّام العالم شي, بس هني بين بعضهم متفقين على شي تاني عشان يشوفوا حالن إنوا حطّوا هالقد.

س : حجة أنا هيك بكون خلصت, بتحبي تزيدي شي, راضية عن حياتك…؟

ع : لا و الله. أنا الحمدالله راضية عن حياتي و ما نجبرت بس إنوا كان مريض هاي الشغلة الوحيدة إلّي ما توفقت فيها. الحمدالله كنت مبسوطة.

س: شكرا إلك يا حجة و إن شاء الله تتوفقي بولادك

Nimer Mohammad Ayoub (Sha’b)

Q: What’s your name hajj?

A: Nimer Mohammad Ayoub, from Sha’b, in the province of ‘Akka.

Q: How did you make a living Palestine? Did you depend on agriculture or industry?

A: We were farmers, we depended on agriculture. We used to plant wheat, barley and lentils in winter. In summer we planted sesame, watermelon and white corn. Sesame was the commonest crop in our village — we used to plant it in summer. Also the olive season was very good; there were more than a million olive branches. There were many deep wells in our village. And we had bb buckets tied to horses or mules, long ropes tied to a wheel, and the mule or horse would circle around with a long wooden beam, and as the horse went around it would raise a bucket of water. We used to call them buckets [hamala]. And we had wells on the coast as well where we pulled the water with a rope which was about 30 meters long with a bucket [tied] to it that held two tins of water. This was on the west of the village, that’s how we were able water the plants in our village, with a bucket tied to a rope.

They used to grow figs in an area called Ya’neen, it was famous for figs and prickly pears [sobeir]. The fellahin would go there in summer, those who had fig trees, and set up tents there, and put a ladder, and go up there to sleep during the summer time – [they were] like tree houses. This was on the west of the village. Around the village there were figs and prickly pears. Most people grew these crops, and there were grapes as well, a lot of land with grape vines. They sold their produce to Haifa.

Q: What did you sell to nearby villages?

A: Whatever we had. We used to sell olive oil and hanta, anyone who had extra.

Q: How did you transport it?

A: On camels, small cars, mules and donkeys.  They left the sesame until the end of summer, August, until the sesame turned yellow. They kept it so it won’t open, because if it opens it rots.

Q: What were the sesame plants like? Were they trees or plants?

A: They were small shrubs. Each shrub had four branches and each branch had more branches. Each branch had two levels with millions of sesame seeds on top of each other. They would leave them to dry, because they should stay inside the leaves. Later they clean them from the leaves. Their price was like the euro today, they were costly.

Q: Was there industry?

A: No, there was no industry in our village nor in other villages because people weren’t advanced in industry. There were industries in the cities.

Q: What did they manufacture?

A: Wallahi I don’t know, I never went to the city. I was about your age, 17 years old, in 1948.

Q: If there was something you lacked, where did you get it from?

A: We had shops in the village, and the shop owners used to go to ‘Akka and buy what people needed. Clothes used to be sewn by hand, the fellahin used to make their clothes by hand. Few people had a sewing machine. There was a man called Mahmoud Abdel-Karim, we went to him. His wife sewed us sharwals and qunabeez. The people would go to buy a piece of silk, she designed it as an abaya but open, and from the same colour they would make pockets and a thin sash, and a jacket, hatta and argal, and an embroidered hat. They used to sew with it long pockets, as in the time when the British and the Turks ruled.

Q: Did the British oppress you? Did you pay taxes?

A: Yes, they had to pay taxes on land.

Q: Yearly or monthly?

A: Yearly. They had to pay every year. Every year the government official came, a Palestinian, and they paid him.

Q: Were there taxes on trade?

A: Wallahi, I don’t know. We didn’t have trade [in the village]. I don’t know if they took taxes on goods that moved by land and sea. We were farmers.

Q: Did the city people buy from you?

A: Yes, from the sesame mill — halawi and oil. The most profitable thing we grew was the sesame.

Q: Were there people from other villages working in your village?

A: Yes, people from South Lebanon used to work copper and that sort of thing.  Also they made shoes. People from Berja [Lebanon] used to come with them, they brought material. And they made clothes for women and men.They used to sell the fabric by meter or by measuring with the arm.

Q: Were there banks?

A; Yes, in the cities. There was the Arab Bank. But we didn’t deal with them.

Q: When you came to Lebanon, what work did you do?

A: As for us, our families were resisting in Sha’b and in al-Birweh, which was on the edge of the land of our village. The Jews occupied ‘Akka and the areas surrounding it, like Kafr Yassin, Jdaydo, al-Kabri, Kwaykat, al-Mazra’a and al-Bassa — all these villages were near the coast. The Jews reached al-Birweh and occupied it. Our village is to the east of al-Birweh, the coast stretches from our village to the west of al-Birweh. Our village was in a valley between two mountains, surrounded by many olive trees. The coastal area was full of olive trees. If you walked around two kilometers west of our village, it was all full of olive trees. The coastal area to the west of al-Birweh was planted with grains. So the Jews occupied al-Birweh after they occupied ‘Akka. This was in 1948, during the wheat harvest season in May or June, it was summer time, and al-Birweh’s harvest was harvested; the Jews came and occupied it. And they occupied the hills above it, and controlled the area, and sniped at the harvesters. Our village had weapons, around 200 rifles. We had employees in the British army. There were official employees and auxiliaries. The government gave every official employee a pension of 200 Palestinian pounds and a rifle to defend himself. And to the auxiliaries they gave an indemnity, without a rifle. An official policeman had a higher rank, so the auxiliary only got an indemnity. I remember that there was a man in our village who said, “I don’t want the indemnity”, but he took the rifle and escaped with it. The British didn’t chase him, or charge him, because the British wanted to withdraw from Palestine and to give it to the Jews. Our catastrophe was from Britain. Our catastrophe as Palestinians was from Britain and France. It was Britain that brought the Jews to our land. It was Britain that ruled, and it was Britain that allowed them to build settlements, and to ruin our land. There were some traitors as there are today, who sold some land, but the revolutionaries chased and killed them. There were brokers who sold some land, they killed them, they killed more than one of them.  Britain was the biggest reason, it was they who brought the Jews and made them owners of Palestine, and let them build settlements. Britain protected them, and before Britain withdrew, it gave them arms. They armed and trained them, and divided them into groups. Britain gave them a leader, ‘lords’, those were the people in charge, like the prime minister, to lead the war. The Jewish army was with Britain. They [British] were the ones who led the war and the attacks against the Palestinians. We didn’t have weapons. If a Palestinian wanted to buy a gun for 100 Palestinian pounds, he couldn’t buy bullets. And if he found bullets they would be rotten and useless. A pack of five bullets cost a Palestinian pound, and what money did a fellah have? They lived and ate from what they grew, from honey, wheat, and corn, things they stored — those who had a farm and those who hadn’t.  The farmers didn’t have stores to keep the harvest to sell it later and earn money, so the farmers didn’t have cash. If he wanted to buy a rifle that cost 100 pounds, what money did the fellah have? He didn’t even have five pounds. Few of them — maybe four, five or six — had a little cash. Most lived from day to day. The people were weak, there were no arms to resist, this needs the support of other countries.

Q: What happened after they occupied al-Birweh?

A: The Jews were shooting at random.  The people of the village [Sha’b]informed the villages around us that we want to attack and occupy al-Birweh because the Jews had occupied it. Wallah, they came from Kwaykat, Sakhneen, Mi’ar, Tamra, Nahaf and Deir, and they [the Palestinians] attacked and took back al-Birweh. The force from our village was the largest, around 100 armed men, we attacked al-Birweh and occupied it. A man from al-Birweh went [ie. was killed], from Sakhneen one, from our village two, and one lost his hand. But the Jews lost more than us, fifty or sixty of them were killed. The Jaysh al-Inqadh[1] was in Majdal Kroom up there in the mountain, and then comes a coastal area next to our village between the two mountains. The Jaysh al-Inqadh came and said, “Leave! It’s up to us to protect the village [al-Birweh]”. The problem was that there was an agreement between them [the Salvation Army and the Jews] that traitors in the village would convince the young men not to fight but to withdraw and rest. “We will protect the village, you go and rest”. So the youth and armed men from the villages that were cooperating with us withdrew from the village. But some of them didn’t sleep. The Jaysh al-Inqadh surrendered the village to the Jews. The people of the village returned the next day to see it, and found out that it was occupied by the Jews.

There were a few who had built a room or a house [elsewhere]. A man had left his house, so we brought my uncles, and stayed in his house. The house was large, it was all arches. Even if fifty men slept in it, it would be big enough. When the village was occupied, everyone escaped, some came to Lebanon; others stayed. The Jews arrived at our village and occupied Mi’ar. The road from ‘Akka to Sakhneen was tarred. The inhabitants of the village [Sakhnin] put up barricades to close the road to the Jews. But the Jews had bulldozers, they removed the barricades and reached Mi’ar and controlled it. Once Mi’ar fell they controlled Sha’b. The people of Sha’b fled, we couldn’t do anything, we were controlled, they were above us. Some people escaped to the valleys. It was summer time.

The Jews came to our village, there was no one there, there were control points above us. Some young men said we should occupy the village again. It was noon. I was jumping among them, without any weapons. I was young, 16 years old, still a boy. Some of the revolutionaries stopped the Jews by throwing grenades at them, and other times with machine gun fire. Look, my dear, two or three men, Abu Anas and his father, and two with them, crept up under their check points to attack them. One of them took the mouth of the gun from a Jewish fighter, and another jumped on him and shot the Jews. We occupied all the check points and killed some of the Jewish officers. We lost two martyrs, and two were wounded. We attacked Mi’ar and were almost taking it back but our ammunition finished. We needed ammunition and we managed to get it. There were still 150 armed men. They sent a man to bring ammunition. He went at night. As he was returning, he was cold and sleepy and that’s how it fell from him. The ammunition fell because the load was very heavy and the mule couldn’t carry it all. The man tried to pick it up and put it on the mule’s back but he couldn’t because it was too heavy. We went to look for the ammunition before sunrise, and I was one of the group that went to look for it. They found some of the ammunition by sunrise. They said, “Who will go up and tell the fighters that there is no ammunition?” so I said, “I will go”. There was someone called Sa’eed al-Saleh,the brother of Ali al-Saleh.  I said to him that I would go. It was still night. I went up and informed them.  There was a leader of the fighters, a pilot called Abu al-‘Abed, God have mercy on him. He said “Good news?” We told him, “Wallah, there’s no ammunition”. How could they defend themselves and resist without ammunition? The men withdrew, and the Jaysh al-Inqadh in Mi’ar didn’t fire a single shot.  How could we defend ourselves and how could we resist now? Abu al- Abed ordered the rebels to withdraw. The Jaysh al-Inqadh in Mia’ar didn’t even shoot one bullet. If they had opened fire and us as well, we could have kicked the Jews out of al-Birweh.

Q: Who were the Jaysh al-Inqadh?

A: They were from the Arab state armies: Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians. Mixed — but the Palestinians were a minority, most were a mixture of Syrians, Egyptians and Jordanians. When the country collapsed, they said that east of Tabaria was in the hands of the Jews. The Jaysh al-Inqadh told the fighters to withdraw because the country had fallen; and they told the families of Sha’b to leave. The people of Sha’b left walking while they, the Army, stayed in the house of the Faours. The Army rode in cars, they had cars, the village fighters left with their weapons. The older people stayed, like my mother,  my father, my uncle and their wives. From the village’s inhabitants there is the Faour family, they stayed too. When we left the village we stayed in the valleys and people went to villages; whoever had an empty house let people stay in it, either for rent or free. People were helping each other. The people of our village went to Sakhneen, Nahaf, Majdel Kroum, and some to Deir. When the Jews occupied the country, many stayed in the villages, but the majority moved to Lebanon. They were few who stayed in the villages near us. I don’t know what the Jews did to them, or to the grapes. It was winter. 

The old people came later, my father, my mother, my uncle. The Jews collected them and put them in open trucks and took them to an area called Asouba in Jenin province, on the border of Marj Ibn Amr. The youngest of them was 80 years old, twelve of the old men and one woman died because they put them in the open, so they died from cold. My mother survived. A woman who was our relative, from South Lebanon, carried her husband on her back, her body was strong. But he died in Jenin, so she went back alone to Majdel Kroum. She had a girl and a boy who were young, twelve and thirteen years old. She asked for them, and the Jews let her take them.

So all our disaster came from Britain, because they helped the Jews with weapons, funding, and everything. It was Britain that made them owners of Palestine. They made the Jewish migrants come by sea in boats, and brought them to houses prepared for them. Most of the settlements were built by British companies. It was the British who were protecting the Jews in our lands.

 


[1] The Jaysh al-Inqadh, the Arab Liberation Army, was composed of volunteers from several Arab countries, led by a Lebanese officer, Fawzi al-Qawukji. It was universally blamed by Palestinians for ineffectiveness and betrayal.

Abdallah Hassan, Abu Hashem (Tarshiha)

Q: What is your name?

A: Abdullah Hassan, Abu Hashem, I was born in Tarshiha, Palestine, 1926, in ‘Akka province.

Q: What did you have in your area that was famous?

A: Our area was famous for agriculture, both in summer and winter. In summer the most important thing for us was tobacco. We planted tobacco and prepared big parcels that weighed 70 or 80 kilos. In the beginning of the winter companies came from ‘Akka, Haifa, and Tel Aviv. The Jews also used to buy tobacco. We sold the tobacco to whoever paid the highest price.

Q: They used to come to you in the village? You didn’t go to the city?

A: No, in the beginning they agreed with us that we would make the parcels, then they would send cars and take them to the company.  After a week we would go down to the company we had sold them to, and they would tell us the price. But they divided the parcels according to quality — whether one, two or three. These are the prices. According to these prices they calculated all of them, and told us, “The price of your tobacco is so much”. They would give us all the money, we would take it, and go back home.

Q: And in winter?

A: In winter, we used to plant wheat,hanta,and to take are of the olive trees and barley. We were fellaheen.

Q: Did the companies take products from you?

A: No they didn’t buy from us in winter. Each one used to take what he needed to his house. Whatever was extra we sold to a trader who came and bought grains that were left over. He bought them and paid their price, and took them from the householder.

Q: Did all the people in Tarshiha plant the same things, or did everyone plant different items?

A: Everyone used to plant the same things: wheat, lentils, barley, hanta.

Q: What is hanta?

A: It’s like wheat but it doesn’t grow very high from the ground, it’s like hommos or lentils or barley or beans – that’s called hanta.

Q: Okay. The things that you lacked in the village, for example if you wanted lemons, how did you supply them?

A: We didn’t have lemons, so whenever we needed something we used to go to the city to buy the things that we lacked, and we would store them in the house, like oranges and lemons, and so on.

Q: Why didn’t you plant these things?

A: It wouldn’t have worked because our lands weren’t big enough, the orchards were narrow.  Lemon and orange trees need coastal areas that they call plantations, which we didn’t have. They also need a lot of water, and we only had water in winter.

Q:  Didn’t you take water from nearby villages?

A:  Never! Except from the coastal plains below. Places where there were citrus trees were ’Amqa, Sheikh Daoud, and al-Nahr. These villages were all orchards.

Q: Aren’t those villages close to Tarshiha?

A: Yes, close, but there was a distance between them, like from here to Saida, or from here to Tripoli. Tarshiha was mountainous, like Aley here.

Q:  How did you build your houses? Were there building materials?

A:  Yes there were. We used to get the building materials in the city. We’d get everything from the quarries that we had – we got stones, sand, cement, and everything and brought it all in carts.Then we built.

Q: Were there cars?

A: Yes there were cars, trucks, and taxis. We had everything.

Q: What were the things that you bought from the city?

A: The young men used to buy suits from ‘Akka and from Haifa.

Q: What did city people buy from you?

A: City people didn’t buy from us, they bought from the markets. From us, from the village they didn’t buy. But anyone who had a quantity of something would go down to the city and sell it in the market.

Q: Was there coinage?

A: Yes, there was money, a lot of money. The Palestinian pound was worth 12,000 Lebanese pounds.

Q: When you sold, did you take cash, or did you exchange things?

A: No, we always took cash.

Q: Okay, the nearby villages, when you bought lemons from them, did you pay them cash too?

A: Yes, we gave them money, and took money from them for everything. A person paid the price. And if they took anything from us they paid money.

Q: Did people from outside Palestine buy your products?

A: No, people came from outside Tarshiha, from other villages.  Some people who didn’t grow things, for example people who didn’t have land. They came and bought agricultural produce.

Q: Did you have industries in the village?

A: We had everything, for example shoe-making, blacksmiths — only the Christians were doing this kind of work. But there was no discrimination. A stranger wouldn’t know who was Christian or Muslim.  There was no discrimination or anything. They exchanged gifts at the feasts. They all lived one life in one village. There were about twenty villages around Tarshiha. It was like Nabatiyya here. A large number bought from Tarshiha. You could find anything you asked for. People used to come and buy things, and order from the black smith what they needed to cultivate the land. And the Christians made everything.

Q: Did you make these things in Tarshiha?

A: Yes, in Tarshiha.

Q: How was education in Tarshiha?

A: Education was until 7th grade.

Q: Could they work with this certificate? What could they do?

A:  Yes, everything, like here. Every clever student, when he finished the 7th grade, he left Tarshiha and went to ‘Akka to finish his education. Exactly like here. For them this was high education. There were two or three who finished the 7th grade but who refused to go to ‘Akka. Instead they came to Beirut to finish their education here. One of them went to the AmericanUniversity, and was head of a section — his name was Al-Sadeq Omar. But now he has resigned.  Those people were pursuing education.  There were rich people, they had money, they used to come here to study at the AmericanUniversity. They’d graduate and find jobs. Some found jobs outside, some found jobs in the AmericanUniversity, others worked in Yafa or in Haifa.

Q: Did anyone work with the British army?

A: No, but when some young men left the village, they [the British?] came and took some people, and they made examinations in Beissan gathering.[1] Those were controlled by the British, with some Arabs. These Arabs wanted to be employed by the British. The Jews invaded our village, they attacked when half of the young men weren’t there.

Q: Did they [British] stop you from trading? Or make you pay taxes?

A: No. We had a district governor. He used to come once a week – “What are your needs?” They never bothered us.

Q: How was life in the city? Did you have other work besides agriculture?

A: Yes, for sure.

Q: What work was there in the city?

A: In the village it was farming. And I told you that anyone who wanted to do other work went to the city and worked as a blacksmith or something like that. They would sleep there. I went for three years and slept in Yafa, I was working in a restaurant. In Yafa there were famous restaurants.

Q: Beside the restaurants was there industry?

A: Yes, there was a lot of industry, like iron work, turnery, and carpentry for furniture, and similar things in Yafa. Yafa was a big city.

Q: Do you remember anything about the 1936 revolution?

A: In 1935 news came to us that there was going to be a war between us and the British. Ten or twelve army tanks were coming to Tarshiha.  Tarshiha was on a mountain, and if you wanted to go from ‘Akka to Tarshiha, there was only one road, and from Tarshiha to Safed only one road — there weren’t many roads like here. Wherever you circled you ended up in the same place. When the British wanted to attack the Arabs, they used the only road.  We put Arab spies to watch them and tell us that they were coming, how many tanks and soldiers there were.  They started to prepare forces called “The Thirty Six”, and they made many battles, and they put up a tent. Once there was a battle called al-Meyaat, it was a fierce one, it happened in the area of Majdel Kroum.  They came from ‘Akka, and they were in the middle of the street.  The rebels knew from which road they were coming, so they divided into two groups: a group to fight them as they came, and the other to block the way so that vehicles couldn’t pass, and no one could walk.  Then they started shooting at them.  I was around fourteen years old, I went with them and watched how the rebels killed them.

Q: Why did you fight them?

A: Because they wanted to give up Palestine to the Jews, this is what they agreed on in the Balfour declaration.  The British owed the Jews a very big sum of money. They had given them money, and at the end when they wanted to calm down the [Zionist] movement they asked them, What do you want? They [the British] said to them we gave you the Balfour Declaration, to give you Palestine. That’s how they [the Jews] came. At the end when the British wanted to leave, they brought buses full of arms, and they stood between the Arabs and the Jews. The Jews stole tanks, and arms and everything. The Arabs used to watch them and laugh, and say the Jews are few, and they can’t do anything. What could they do? But America wanted to support them [the Jews]. If the Jews were alone they would have gone long ago. It was America that broke the Palestinians.

Q:  What happened? Did you continue the war against them?

A: Al-Husseini, he was the one who betrayed us, and Hajj Amin as well. It was they who put a price on Palestine. They estimated each village at a hundred million, or a hundred thousand, or a hundred. Then they surrendered them to the Jews, and said this area was lost.[2] They were the leaders and we believed them. The people left because of fear. The first thing that happened was a battle called Deir Yassin. They [the Jews] attacked it in a single attack, and they ripped open the pregnant women. They killed and killed. It was this battle of Deir Yassin that terrified everyone. People wanted to escape because they were scared that the same thing that had happened at Deir Yassin would happen to them. All the Arabs left, and the Jews took it over [the country]. I went back twice to Palestine in 1948, once at night I went from Rmaysh here.  I walked at night until I arrived in Tarshiha. 

Once the Jews attacked us, they put the women alone and the men alone, and they searched for rebels.  There was a traitor, his name was Rabah from Ghabsiyeh. I know him and I know that he wasn’t a traitor.  Two men came from Nazareth, they wanted…

Q:  Was there money and were there banks?

A: Yes there were, but not in Tarshiha.  There was one in ‘Akka, people put [money] in it, when they wanted to. They go to take [money]. At first they didn’t know that there was interest on this money, but we put it, and when you want it you come and take.

Q: When you came to Lebanon, where did you go?

A:  I came to Lebanon alone from Tarshiha, I came to Bourj straight away. First we [family] went to al-Bass, Bint Jbayl, and Rmaysh. We were sleeping in the streets. It was summer time.  The buses came and took us and transferred all Tarshiha people to Aleppo, and took them in trucks. When they arrived, they brought them a train that transferred their animals. I arrived in al-Bass and went to Beirut. I knew Beirut from before we left [Palestine], I used to come and go. And I knew a man and he told me if something happens, come to me. I was married.

Q: Did Lebanon and Palestine buy from each other?

A: Yes, there was trade between Lebanon and Palestine.

Q: What was the most important thing that they used to take?

A: They used to come and take what they needed, fabrics, goods, everything, walnuts, almonds. The people of Palestine took from Lebanon.

Q: What did the Lebanese take from Palestine?

A: They used to work with us [in Palestine]. In Lebanon three quarters of them worked in Palestine and in Syria. There were Egyptians and Lebanese in the heart of Palestine before we left.  They used to say that Palestine is our country, whether in the Jaleel province or Haifa or Yafa. All of them used to work in Palestine. The Palestinian pound was the strongest currency.  In Palestine people were earning a lot of money. But the British were ruling them, that’s why people didn’t have much money.  There were millionaires in Palestine. There was a man in Haifa whose name was ‘Aziz al-Khayat. He had two daughters and two sons. Before he died he said to his children take my hand out of the coffin. The people asked them [the children] why did you take out his hand like this?  They said that it was his will, and it means when someone dies, no matter how rich he is, he can’t take anything with him. So look after yourselves.

Haifa was long, it stretched five or six kilometers, but its width was little because of the sea. The mountains up there were for the Jews.  The road was very long that led to Tel Aviv, and the other areas. 

That was the richest man in all the area. No one would benefit from anything, neither money nor anything. He should just take care of himself, and work for himself.[3]

Q: What were the villages around Tarshiha?

A: Suhmata was the closest village to us, then comes al-Deir, and then Safad. Safad is very close the Lebanese borders.

Q: Did you come to trade in Lebanon?

A: Not me, but my father used to come.

Q: Who came to trade in Lebanon?

A:  There was a man called Shafeeq Ammar, and Abdel Qudous. Several people used to come to trade.  They traded using mules, and brought back what they wanted. But the police used to bother them a bit.  Later they struck up friendship with them. From the day God gave them birth the police loved money. From the beginning, you could give them money and take whatever you wanted. Lebanon was poor. After Palestine was occupied Lebanon was like this [hand gesture to mean growth]. Palestine was the richest country in the Arab world. Even Egypt was nothing. The [Egyptian] population was seven or eight million, now they are 85 million. When the people left Palestine, that was how the Arab countries around us were. Lebanon was nothing when we came, all of it was lazy villagers who didn’t know how work.

Q: I heard that the British used even to tax draft animals. If you had a camel they would tax it. Did that happen with you?

A: Yes, all of them they had that [draft animals]. But when they came to Tarshiha the English commissioner would come: “What have you got to register” And they paid the right amount on it, it wasn’t that much. The British were careful with herds and draft animals. Our people who worked in rocky areas used donkeys, and they [the British] would stop them and say “Take off the saddle-bag”. And if a donkey was hurt they would take it to their area, and they would tell you to bring barley to feed it, and it would stay with them to be cured. And when it got better the owner would take it back.

Q: Did you trade horses?

A: Yes, we traded everything.

Q: Who bought from you?

A: Whoever wanted to buy a horse, went to Tarshiha.

Q: Arabs not British?

A: No, Arabs, not the British.

Q: They came from the other Arab countries to buy?

A: Yes they came to anyone who had horses. Cows and that sort of thing they bought from Jordan and Lebanon.  People came and bought.

Q: Were the lands owned? Did everyone work his own land? Or did they work for others?

A:  No, no. People worked on the land they owned. There were people who didn’t have land, who didn’t work for me or you or someone else. The one who had land gave work to the one who didn’t have land, for wages. We once planted tobacco. Tobacco needs many work hands. Every time you want to plant a piece of land with tobacco it has to be dug with a fork, and someone has to separate the plants one by one, he has to dig it with a fork, and a woman behind him waters the plant This needed many workers. Each fork needed four people to work with it.

Q: Did the women work with you in the fields?

A: Yes the women worked like the men.

Q: Did people from other areas come to work with you?

A: Yes, those who didn’t have lands used to come to work for wages.  Tarshiha was known for planting tobacco. They used to plant tobacco in other villages but they didn’t know how to care for it. Making tobacco needs experience.

Q: You told me that there was one school, correct?  Was the school like in the past under a tree?

A: Yes, there was a big school.  We planted cypress trees there in my days at school.  When I went back recently —

Q: When did you go?

A: I went in 1997. My uncle and his sons are there. Many kids came when I used to climb the cypress tree; it was about five meters tall.  It’s still there. And near to the cypress there was a big hole, and we used to take water from it. We used to take water from it in winter, we carried it on draft animals in cans, to water the tobacco plants, because when you plant tobacco it needs a lot of water.

Q: Have they changed Tarshiha’s name?

A: They added to it. When I went to ‘Israel’ — it’s been forbidden to enter ‘Palestine’ except by saying ‘Israel’.

Q:  But hajj, we don’t say ‘Israel’, we say ‘occupied Palestine’. I don’t recognize this Israel.

A:  If you say ‘Palestine’ they won’t let you enter.  If you want to come from any country, they won’t let you in unless you get a permit from a European country, from any European country. From any Arab country they won’t let you enter. They have an agreement with Jordan, you can enter only from Jordan. I went from Denmark because I was in Denmark, and I took my papers from there.  So when I reached the border, they asked me, “Where do you want to go?” I told them “I want to go to Tarshiha”. They said “There isn’t Tarshiha”. I said, “Yes there is”. They said, “No there isn’t”. They brought an Arab girl to speak with me, a girl who spoke Arabic. I told this girl, “I don’t understand Hebrew, I understand English and Arabic”. She said, “Okay, where do you want to go?”  I told her, “I want to go to Tarshiha”. She told me not to say Tarshiha because they have deleted it from the map. So I asked her, “What have they called it?” She said, “Now it’s Ma’louq Tarshiha”. I said to her, “Okay, I’ll go to Ma’louq Tarshiha”. She told me “Your name is such-and-such”. They knew everything about me. She said, “You’re going to your uncle in Tarshiha. His name is such-and-such and his son’s name is such-and-such”. As if they were living together. If we speak honestly, there’s no one who understands as much as the Jews. From a hundred years ago they planned this business.  

When I went, she said, “Ahlan wasahlan! Do you know who will take you?” I said “No, I don’t know my uncle’s children”. She said, “I’ll stay with you and we’ll go outside the airport, and when your cousins come and you recognize them, I’ll hand you over to them. And if you don’t see them, we’ll take you and you’ll sleep with us. And in the morning we’ll take you to your uncle’s house – we know his house, it’s next to the mosque, it’s near I don’t know what” – the Jews know more [about us] than we do. We went on walking, she and me, and she pushed the carriage with my things – she didn’t let me push anything. We kept walking until we reached a gate, I looked, I didn’t know anyone. There were three young men standing together.  I looked at them, and said to them, “I’m Abdullah”. They said, “Yes”. She kept standing until I reached them, and handed me over. They came and took me, and we kept on walking. I had told them from Denmark about my visit that I’m coming at such-and-such an hour, so when I arrived I found them waiting for me. They took me up to the village.

Q: Was Tarshiha still the same?

A: Yes, it’s still the same, and more beautiful.

Q: Do Jews live there?

A: Yes it has Jews and Arabs. There’s a center for the Jews. Arabs don’t enter it. And there’s a center for the mayor. He is from Tarshiha, Arab, and his name is Ibrahim Shaker al-Hawari. His father married my cousin, so he recognized me, and it was “Ahlan! Ahlan Abdallah!”

Q: Haven’t they made settlements there?

A: Yes, they made a settlement. You can say that Tarshiha is like a circle. The Jews came and made a settlement up on the mountain, and they called it Ma’louq, and they lived in it with their weapons. If the Arabs wanted to fight them, the Jews will deal with them.  The Jewish army wouldn’t need to come and fight them because those close to them would fight them. That’s what the Jews did, they know how to deal with the Arabs. When you enter Israel they ask you where are you going to and where are you coming from. No one talks to you because they know everything about you. Once I spent 45 days there. We were coming from an evening in Zeeb. There are lots of Jewish coffee shops in Zeeb, it’s all girls there, you don’t see men, only girls. You don’t see men in the restaurants because men are taken for the army.

Q: Al-Zeeb?

A: Al-Zeeb is near Nahariya. We used to go to Nahariya. There were Jews in Nahariya, they gave us clothes. We used to go swimming, and they brought us home.  They did everything.  But I went there on a visit, I went to Tel Aviv, Yafa, and Haifa – we didn’t leave a place unvisited. We’d go to spend the evening at Jewish cafes, I and my cousins. We’d stay there until late at night, until eleven or twelve o’clock.

Q: How did you go from Denmark to Palestine? Do you have a foreign passport?

A: Danish. I spent seventeen years in Denmark, so I have a foreign nationality. I can go anywhere I want. I went to Germany and Sweden.

Q: Did you take hajji with you?

A: No.

Q: Did they give you residence there [Denmark]?

A: No, I’d go straight to Palestine.  They don’t limit your stay. They ask you how long do you want to stay, and they give you a visa, and he [uncle] sends it to me. I take it. I go and get the paper from the Jews who are down there [at the airport], and go straight to Israel.  No one asked me “Where are you going?” When I was at the airport I asked where the Jewish center was.  They told me it’s that room. I went and found a girl standing. She said to me “Ahlan, ahlan! Where do you want to go?”  I told her Tarshiha, but she said that the Jews don’t call it Tarshiha. There’s no one foxier than them. She told me that there’s only Ma’louq Tarshiha.  I said to her, “That’s it, they changed its name”. She said “Just a question — when you packed that bag did anyone pack it with you?”  I told her “No, no, no, no, no”. So she didn’t search my luggage. She said, “I don’t want to search it”. She put it and told me the plane would take off in about a quarter of an hour. “I will come beside you”. Then she brought me coffee, and stayed, and when the plane was about to leave she took me to it.[4]

 Q: Why did you leave Tarshiha?

A: I told you, they sold our country.

Q: What happened? With whom did you leave?

A: The whole village. Airplanes were raiding.  It wasn’t only the Jews’ fault,  it was our fault too.  Before they bombed Tarshiha they distributed leaflets.  “Oh brothers, oh families of Tarshiha, we are neighbours” (we were indeed neighbours, we used to plant tobacco, together, them and us).”Don’t leave!  No one will say anything to you, we will go together”. But the leaders didn’t listen, they left the village, so the people were afraid. Life is precious. Everyone left — those who stayed were about twenty people. No one [Jews] said a single word  to them. The ones who stayed started a new life. It took two or three years before they gave them identity cards and passports.  I went back [to Palestine] before they gave them identity cards. I came and said to them [family in Lebanon] do you want to leave [go back]? I asked my wife if she wanted to return.  She said no.  I sent a message to Abu Hashem, our elder, asking him if he wanted to [return]. He said, “No, we don’t want to go”. I asked her [his wife] “Will you go with me?” She said no. So I said, why go? What would I do there alone?

Q: You were married?

A: Yes, I got married in Palestine.

Q: Did you have children in Palestine?

A: Yes, a boy was born but he died young.

Q: May God have mercy on him.

A: She didn’t want to return with me, and I said why return alone?  If they had accepted I would be in Palestine now.

Q: You came from Aleppo to Bourj?

A: I didn’t go to Aleppo.  All of Tarshiha who are here were in Aleppo, and before they did the statistics [ie. censused the refugees], everyone who had relatives sent to them saying come to Lebanon because life in Lebanon is better than in Syria. A lot of people came, more than left, that’s what happened to us. There were gatherings of people here and they made us the  camp. The first tent that was set up in Bourj al-Barajneh was for Tarshiha people, for beit Mustafa and beit al-Qadi. The mukhtar of Bourj al-Barajneh town, Abu Ahmad Sab’a, loved the Palestinians very much so he gave them land.  One day, one of us died, so we took him to Radouf [cemetery] to bury him. But they forbade us. We said, “Why are Palestinians forbidden?” [They said] “We will bury this one you have brought, but not anyone else”. After they finished the burial, Abu Ahmad came and said, “Come brothers. Let’s sit. We buried this one here but another time we don’t want to bring a Palestinian here”. He said, “Follow me”. So we followed him to a sandy area near Ayn Sikki.  He said, “See this piece of land?” We saw how much it was, a big area. He said, “All this is yours, make it your cemetery”.  He sent his father to Mohammad ‘Ammar, who was a notable there, and told him, “Build me a wall six bricks high and build it now”.[5]

Q: When you came here what work did you do to earn a living?

A: Any work the Palestinians did they were good at it, everything, and they earned their pay. I ended up working for a man from the Sab’a family who had a bakery. He gave me the job. My sister’s husband did the job during the day and I did it at night. Another worker used to come and take the work from me in the morning. I worked in this for three years, then I found work with al-Mulouk who owned a cake and juice shop — he had many kinds of juices. I stayed selling at the stand; I worked there for twelve years. Then I bought a car and worked with it [ie. as a taxi driver].

Q: Were you driving a taxi or a truck?

A:  I had a Mercedes taxi. They didn’t ask you anything. And if there was opposition, if someone from the army or the police stopped you, it was known that you could bribe any police you want with a gift of five pounds, if he wanted to fine you.  Once I had an argument with a real Nimrod, a Christian – he’s dead now, God have mercy on him. He said, “I want your papers”. I said, “They’re not with me”. He said, “The car’s papers”. I said, “They’re not with me”. He said, “Your identity card”. I said, “It’s not with me”. He said, “Come, let’s understand each other”. I said, “How? What’s the problem?” He said, “Why don’t you want to carry the papers?” I said, “I have them but if I give them to you and you write me a fine of five pounds” – that was the price in those days – “how will you benefit?” He said, “It’s my job”. I said “I will give you and host you better” [ie. than the government]. “I will give you things. It’s between you and me, no one will know.  Just show me your house”. The next day I went to his house and took him a bag of things. And from that time we became the best of friends. He’d get angry if I didn’t visit him every day.  Then he said, “If you only visit me to give me something, don’t come”. We stayed friends, him and me. We enjoyed ourselves. We used to drink arak in those days — we were young men. I was around twenty years old.


[1] It isn’t clear what Abu Hashem is referring to here.

[2]  This is a story we have never heard before. Even though blame of the pre-1948 national leadership is common, it is usually for disunity rather than betrayal.

[3] Abu Hashem goes back here to his story about the rich man, Aziz al-Khayat.

[4]  Though this anecdote resembles the earlier one Abu Hashem told about visiting Tarshiha, it’s clear that this one took place in the airport before leaving Denmark, whereas the first described his arrival in Tel Aviv on a different trip. The parallels between the two stories – the Arabic-speaking girl who questions him, and accompanies him to the airport perimeter/place – underlines Israel’s security precautions. 

[5] When they first arrived in Lebanon, Palestinians — as ‘foreigners’ — had no land allocated to them for cemeteries. Abu Ahmad Sab’a’s generosity to them is thus especially praiseworthy. Radouf and Ayn Sikki are both areas bordering Bourj al-Barajneh municipality.

Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hassan (Kwaykat)

Q:  What is your name?

A: Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hassan, Abu Muneer, from Kwaykat. People there used to live in luxury, they were good hearted, and loved each other. There was friendliness, love, and solidarity. There was no cheating, people lived according to their destiny, neither very rich nor poor — medium. Everyone had his own land and lived from it.  Small farms, it was agricultural land, people were well off. I mean it was luxury.

Q: What did you plant?

A: Wheat, corn, barley, squash, cucumber, potatoes… And they used to raise chickens and bees for honey. Everything was available. And the one who didn’t have [land], his neighbour would give him and help him. The one who was sick they gave him and helped him. They helped the one who wanted to get married. The one who had wheat and wanted to grind it, they used to help him. If someone wanted to cement his roof, the whole village would pour cement with him. It was like socialism.

Q:  With regard to the crop, did you go down to the city?

A: No, not the entire crop. What was left over, he would take of figs, eggs and sesame, and take them down to the city.

Q: Were there nonArab companies that took the crops?

A: No, only city people, the families of ‘Akka.

Q: Did you ever go to the city? How did the people live there?

A: Ah, all the people lived together with each other. There wasn’t discrimination. Love, solidarity, good living, friendliness. People didn’t have tensions or quarrels.  All of us were equal, like a family, likebrothers.

Q: What did you bring back from the city?

A: Clothes, sweets, medicine, and meat. There was meat in the village, but when someone wanted to get married, he’d go to ‘Akka taking with him four women and their husbands, and they would have lunch at a restaurant. Luxury!

Q: Did you pay taxes?

A: No, there weren’t any.

Q: Not even with British colonization?

A: In the cities there weren’t any factories that could be taxed

Q: Were there banks?

A: Yes, but we didn’t deal with them.

Q: Did you sell your goods for money or by exchange?

A: No, for money.

Q: Did everyone work his own land, or for other people?

A: On their own lands. And also they worked outside in areas where there were orchards, and for the Jews.

Q: Did the British harass you?

A: No, but after the revolution in 1936 they used to punish anyone who had weapons, and anyone who made meetings. Before that people were fine, happy.

Q: Did you have any contact with Lebanon?

A: No, the village people didn’t have any contact with the Lebanese. The city people had contact with them but very little.

Q: What did you get from outside Palestine? For sure there were things that didn’t exist in Palestine?

A: No, we used to live according to our means — the wheat, the olive oil, the honey, and the figs trees were enough for us. We didn’t lack anything.

Q What was Kwaykat famous for?

A: For agriculture.

Q: Wasn’t there a specific crop?

A: No, the usual.

Q: Did you have contacts with nearby villages?

A: Yes, whenever there was a wedding, or whenever there was a death. There was a valley called Wadi Majnouna. In winter the grass grew tall there, and the sheep used to go outside the village. People all collected the sheep, each one would take hold of a sheep, help them follow the flock, and put them in the right direction.

Q: What work did you do when you came to Lebanon?

A: The same work we used to do in Palestine. In Lebanon they don’t give us our civic rights, even educated people can’t find work in schools, or open an institution, or a clinic or a business. It’s difficult in Lebanon. We don’t have the right to own property.

Q: Did you come directly to Bourj al-Barajneh?

A: No, we came to Abbasiyya, then here.

Q: Why didn’t you stay there?

A: That village was poor, Beirut was better. Besides everyone started to follow their relatives. If a brother left, his brother followed. People came one after the other.

Q Do you have relatives who stayed there [in Palestine]?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: Do you still have contact with them?

A: Yes, by telephone.

Q: How is their life?

A: They are fine. They are living well in al-Khalil [Hebron], not like Gaza or the West Bank. They can buy land and sell it, and go on the hajj.

Q: Did the women work with you?

A: Yes, of course, they had an important role.

Q: Was there difference between summer and winter crops?

A: Yes of course there was a difference.  In winter people stored some crops, and work was slight because it was winter. In the month of May and June we used to trim the corn and barley, and the okra and beans.

Q: Would you like to say anything else?

A: I wish you health, and I wish for return, oh Lord!